How Fast Are Golden Eagles?

Written by Niccoy Walker
Updated: February 3, 2023
© elmehdi.ph/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points

  • Golden eagles are capable of covering 100 miles daily and can even fly 250 miles when migrating.
  • They are America’s largest eagles even outdoing bald eagles in terms of size.
  • They are also the fastest eagles on the planet and the second fastest birds no mean feat since falcons are generally faster than eagles.

The golden eagle is the largest bird of prey in North America. You can spot one by looking for dark brown undersides, golden heads, and white patches at the base of their long tails. This majestic raptor is nimble and agile, gliding through the air effortlessly. They are extremely swift and can dive at speeds most animals could never reach. So, how fast are golden eagles? Are they the fastest eagles in the world? Discover their speed, including how far they can travel in one day.

How Fast Can Golden Eagles Fly?

Largest Eagles in the World: Golden Eagle
The Golden Eagle’s average speed is around 60 Mph, but when diving for prey, it can reach 200 Mph.

©Vladimir Kogan Michael/Shutterstock.com

The golden eagle can reach speeds over 150 Mph! Some researchers have even clocked them at 200 Mph when they dive. This bird is faster than any animal on land, including the cheetah, which reaches speeds up to 80 Mph. Their average soaring speed is around 28 to 32 Mph, and they stay around the 120 range when hunting. But when diving for prey, they reach extraordinary rates of 150 to 200. Golden eagles can sustain these rates thanks to their aerodynamic bodies and significant wingspans.

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They also possess the strongest grip of any raptor in the world. Their talons produce 1200 pounds per square inch of pressure. In comparison, the human jaw is only 600. Their talon grip, impressive speeds, and agile maneuvering make them efficient predators in the animal kingdom. They hold their eight-foot wings in a “V” shape, dive from the sun to blind their prey, and use their crushing talons to lift creatures as large as ten pounds or take down animals as big as a deer.

How Far Can a Golden Eagle Fly in One Day?

Golden eagles can easily cover distances of 100 miles on any given day. However, they can fly over 250 miles in a day during migration. These birds can soar effortlessly for hours while migrating or searching for food. Most eagles, like golden eagles, fly high above the terrain to clearly see their surroundings and potential prey. They can reach heights of 13,000 to 16,000 feet; around the area, small planes fly. Some eagles will soar above the clouds during storms, allowing them a peaceful, uninterrupted flight. 

What Is the Fastest Eagle in the World?

Golden eagle close up of eyes and beak
Golden eagles are the fastest eagles on the planet

©iStock.com/Paco Adame

The golden eagle is the fastest eagle in the world! Falcons tend to be swifter than eagles, but the golden eagle is the second fastest bird in the world (tied with the Saker falcon). While their average cruising speeds are not particularly impressive, they can push themselves to 200 Mph when diving for prey, as fast as a Ferrari! Their large size, combined with pure strength and power, make their velocity all that more spectacular. However, its significant size takes away from some of its maneuverability. This bird goes for slower prey like goats and deer, as it can’t catch fast-moving birds

Where Can You Find the Golden Eagle?

Are you looking to spot one of these stately golden eagles? You can find them in North America, Asia, Northern Africa, and Europe. They range from Mexico through the Western United States and Canada, including Alaska. The golden eagle inhabits open to semi-open areas around mountains, hills, and cliffs. Their preferred habitats include grasslands, shrublands, tundra, farmlands, and coniferous forests. To find them, look to the sky. They soar on steady wings, scanning the landscape for potential food.

What Is the Fastest Bird in the World?

Peregrine falcon landing
Peregrine falcons are the fastest birds in the world

©Harry Collins Photography/Shutterstock.com

The peregrine falcon is the fastest bird in the world. The golden eagle gets close, but this falcon takes the crown in speed, reaching up to 240 Mph. Their average cruising speed is around 60 Mph, but when diving for prey, they easily topple 200. It can fold its aerodynamic wings against its body and continue adjusting to reduce drag until the moment of impact. Unlike the golden eagle, this falcon can catch fast-moving birds like pigeons and songbirds in mid-air. You can find this falcon along mountain ranges, river valleys, and coastlines. They live on all continents except Antarctica.

What Other Birds Are Extremely Fast?

The Saker falcon is comparable in speed to the golden eagle, reaching 200 Mph. However, it has a slight edge over the eagle; its regular flying speed quickly reaches over 90 Mph in horizontal flight. This endangered falcon is quite a bit smaller than the golden eagle, with a four-foot wingspan. 

The gyrfalcon is the largest falcon in the world and can reach 68 Mph when cruising over extremely long distances without stopping or slowing down. To hunt, they get low to the ground while maintaining their momentum. They fly up and dive straight down on their prey right before they attack. 

The red-tailed hawk has an average speed of 20 to 40 Mph, but when they dive to catch prey, they can reach more than 120. This hawk has incredible eyesight and can spot a fast-moving mouse from 100 feet away. The white-throated needletail can topple 105 Mph. This swift has large, powerful wings and is often mistaken for a bird of prey.

Up Next

Interested in reading more about golden eagles? Click on the links below:

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The Featured Image

a predator golden eagle with a dangerous look
a predator golden eagle with a dangerous look
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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer and content creator focusing on nature, wildlife, food, and travel. She graduated Kappa Beta Delta from Florida State College with a business degree before realizing writing was her true passion. She lives in the Triangle area and enjoys hiking, reading, and cooking!

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Sources
  1. Nevada Department of Wildlife, Available here: https://www.ndow.org/species/golden-eagle/
  2. Forest Service U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, Available here: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5303500.pdf